PATERNO NOT DISGRACED BUT A DISGRACE; NCAA MUST ACT & STATUE MUST COME DOWN

While the underlying issue of the Penn State scandal is atrocious and disgusting, you can pretty much read one article about the timeline of events and the release of the Freeh Report and pretty much say you have read all of the articles pertaining to the situation.

Looking for an opportunity to make my point and write about my feelings on the sickness in not so Happy Valley, PA came via a reply to a comment I made about needing opinions on what the NCAA should do to Penn State, and whether or not the Joe Paterno statue should be taken down.

I made this request on the popular sports page Grumbines Sports Mash on Facebook while preparing to deliver my Blog Talk Radio Show, Z-Best Raw Sports talk on Thursday evening.

I asked for the help of the pages regulars by asking the following, “I need your help once again and this time I only have 90 minutes to get it…What should the NCAA do to Penn State University, and should the Paterno statue at Penn State be taken down? Here is the link to the Freeh Report released today.”

The first comment went without a hitch and was delivered by one of the pages regular contributors.

“As much as I was a Paterno fan, with the FBI evidence now out I’d have to say tear it down, “said Kirk Wilke. Pedophilia is such an awful crime against our whole society and values anyone caught covering it up should not be honored. Breaks my heart.”

Great point by Kirk, but keep in mind that I am in search of an article that not everyone else is writing. The horrible report delivered by former FBI Director Louis Freeh revealed that Penn State leaders covered up assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s child sexual abuse for years, disregarding the welfare of his young victims to save the reputation of the school.

Freeh’s report blames former top university officials President Graham Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz, late head football coach Joe Paterno and athletic director Tim Curley, two of which were directly involved with the schools Division I football program.

Sandusky going away

The second response to my request not only drew my attention, and my ire, but also gave me the story I was looking to write. Thanks to Don Hammerick of Hoopeston Illinois, I was able to write my feelings out about this tragedy, as well as use this as type of healing therapy for myself. This is a situation that has hit close to home and one that still possesses many ghosts in the attic so to speak.

It is important that while we as sports fans may fatigue of stories like Bountygate, and the Dwight Howard trade talks, getting tired of this story would seriously lead me to believe that America is truly headed down the wrong road. I’m not saying we should want to hear about Sandusky and Paterno tragedy every day, but the tragedy of child sex abuse should always be a high priority of concern for every living human adult, and it was not a priority of any magnitude for over a decade at Penn State.

First, I want to thank Don for his comments and opinion. Without the participation of men like him, debates such as this one could not exist, and that would also be a crime. The point of this whole debate from the Freeh report was released is to ensure that justice is served to the very end while continuing to keep the sickness of child sex abuse front and center.

While I strongly disagree with Don’s comments, as an American he has the right to voice them. I respect men like Don, and Kirk for being brave enough to publish what they believe in.

Don’s reply to my request:

“Why should the NCAA do anything? Is this really an NCAA matter? Did any of the horrible crimes involve student/athletes? This is a civil matter and should remain there. As for the statue, leave it up to the University, their board of directors, alumni etc. to decide”.

I do not want to become the typical message board asshole and criticize Don by calling him names, and telling him, he is a moron, that would be wrong and unprofessional.  Don seems like an intelligent sports fan who may be just be one of the many that want this story to end.

The NCAA should get involved for two reasons. The first reason is a simple one,  if any of the people that mattered at Penn State( Paterno, Spanier, Schultz, and Curley) had done EVERYTHING, instead of the minimum, to stop this from happening over and over again, after they learned of the first incident, there may have only been a few victims.

I say only a few victims with a very broken heart. As someone that has been apart of a tragedy similar to this, I can only tell you that one is far too many, and more than one, I can assure you Mr.Hammerick, is hardly just a civil matter. While there are more than one victim, there is also more than one individual that contributed to this crime. One of those individuals happens to be the all-time winingest coach in NCAA Div. I football history. Football is very much apart of this equation, and like or not, the NCAA must become involved. Just because there is no precedent for this type of behavior in the past that the NCAA can draw from, and thank God for that, does not mean they should not act. Just because Penn State did not commit a violation or penalty that involved fair play on the field, doesn’t mean that Penn State didn’t violate NCAA rules.

The NCAA always professes that they are about making sure that student athletes are protected against anything that would harm their futures. Well what about prospective student athletes like say 11, 12, or 13-year old boys? Doesn’t the NCAA have a responsibility about what happens at one of their most storied institutions in and around one of their most storied locker rooms?  Their mission statement, which says, “Our purpose is to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.”

Even if they do not understand their own rule, Penn State has clearly violated the section of the rules book that is titled, PRINCIPLES OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL AS PREPARED BY THE NCAA COMMITTEE ON INFRACTIONS. Specifically, the section that says, “failure to pursue”.

I also found this part of the Institutional Control section interesting:

 “A head coach has special obligation to establish a spirit of compliance among the entire team, including assistant coaches, other staff and student-athletes. The head coach must generally observe the activities of assistant coaches and staff to determine if they are acting in compliance with NCAA rules. Too often, when assistant coaches are involved in a web of serious violations, head coaches profess ignorance, saying that they were too busy to know what was occurring and that they trusted their assistants. Such a failure by head coaches to control their teams, alone or with the assistance of a staff member with compliance responsibilities, is a lack of institutional control”.

To say this is a civil matter is an utterly asinine statement. I say this with the utmost respect and professional courtesy for not knowing Mr. Hammerick. As I said earlier, he is entitled to his opinion.

Mr. Hammerick’s saying this is just a civil matter is almost as asinine as Joe Paternos son, Jay, telling ESPN that he finds the “culture of concealment” purported in the Freeh Report to be “unreasonable.” Even more ridiculous than that quote is Jay Paterno telling ESPN in the same interview, “When you judge people’s actions in a historical event, its human nature to judge those events based on info we have now in 2012,”

WOW. That quote would lead you to believe that Sandusky committed these horrible acts back in the early part the 1900’s, and not that child sex abuse was OK then either. We are talking about a timeline in the Freeh reports of just 14-years.  Jay Paterno is in full denial, and to be fair, I can understand it. How would you feel if your father was a legendary football coach that was considered a father and grandfather figure during his then perceived illustrious career.

If you have ever lost a parent then you know that Jay is still very much mourning his father’s death. Joe Paterno died in January of lung cancer at 85, and the last images of Joe are of him standing at his own front door defending his name, and the school he help build to a football powerhouse during the last 60 years. A defense to which we now know, no reasonable defense exists.

What Paterno did is criminal. According to legal experts and ESPN Chicago, if he were alive today, Joe Paterno — the coach who stood for so long for character and integrity both on and off the football field — could be looking at charges such as child endangerment, perjury and conspiracy.

Telling ESPN that after 430 interviews and 3.5 million document and electronic document reviews that Louis Freeh’s report is merely an opinion would indicate Jay Paterno, and probably the rest of the Paterno family has a very long way to go to heal. The right thing is to also have thoughts and prayers for them. I could not imagine what it is like to be Joe Paternos son today.

Jay will eventually need to accept his father made very bad choices and instead of defending them, Jay will need to figure out how to accept on behalf of his father the responsibility and circumstances that now come with those horrible lapses in judgment.

The NCAA needs to severely punish PSU and swiftly, and it is up to more than just the University, their board of directors, and alumni to decide whether that statue comes down. If Penn State were smart, Jo Pa’s statue should have fallen as quickly as when the Iraqi people toppled the Sadam Hussein statue on August 30, 2007.

I say Joe Pa for the last time because the “Pa” part would indicate a father figure. A real father figure would not conceal this horrible information. If you do not believe me, than maybe you will trust some of the people that stood by Paterno and Penn State, until Thursday.

Within hours of Thursday morning’s release of the 267-page report, Nike moved to remove Paternos name from the child development center on Nike Campus in Beaverton, Ore. Nike’s endorsement deal with Paterno had been longer than with any college coach at the time Paterno died in January at 85.

Nike chairman of the board Phil Knight, who expressed steadfast support for Paternos response to the allegations during the coach’s memorial service, issued a statement that said in part: “It appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day. My love for Joe and his family remains.”

According to the USA Today, several of Paternos former players acknowledged his illustrious résumé, which includes 409 wins, two national championships and many philanthropic acts that touched the lives of countless individual, is forever tarnished.

Former Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington told USA TODAY Sports that the findings “do not erase everything positive on Joe Paternos résumé,” but they represent a “big mark, a bad mark on his résumé. It certainly does tarnish his reputation.

“We’ve all had lapses of judgment. His happens to be on a monumental level, and there happens to be children’s welfare involved in this.”

Chris Devlin, who played linebacker for Paterno in the early 1970s, said in a telephone interview that the report “just proves that even the best of us are not perfect. Historically, you’ll see that he was a great coach but a sinner like the rest of us. The great tragedies portray both the heroic and the weaknesses in us, not that Joe Paterno is Adolf Hitler or something.”

No Chris Devlin, Joe Paterno is not Adolph Hitler, but he is not the Joe Paterno we all thought he was. Every minute his statue remains is like a slap I the face to the victims, and not just the child abuse victims in this case, but all sex abuse cases. Many of whom may be sitting one Saturday afternoon watching a PSU football game on TV as ABC, or ESPN pan a camera shot past his bronzed life like image. I am sure the memory that will surface is not the time when Penn State upset Miami in the Fiesta Bowl to win the National Championship. Their memories will be a lot darker, and all because of that damn statue.

Don is not alone in his thoughts and opinions. Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports.com says, “Hitting Penn State over the head with the NCAA’s rulebook, when Penn State didn’t break any NCAA rules, is not fair.

Doyel also wrote that on his Twitter account this past Monday, and was blasted. Many people asked Doyel if the fact that the school covered up rape, is the definition of “a lack of institutional control?”

Doyel goes on to say, “Well, sure. But not as it relates to sports. I’ll allow that Sandusky’s apprehension and conviction years earlier would have hurt recruiting then — as it will hurt Penn State’s recruiting now — but Penn State officials weren’t gutless years ago because they were afraid of a recruiting hit. They were afraid of Joe Paterno. This was his program, his school, and if he wasn’t going to punch Sandusky in the nose and call the cops every hour on the hour until they started investigating that monster, well, neither were they. It wasn’t about some schoolboy quarterback from Altoona; it was about the revered, feared old man running the show”.

Doyel makes my point, the old man running the show was the head football coach, and therefore it becomes an NCAA issue. I know the NCAA has long been considered a laughing stock, and is as corrupt as Capitol Hill and Wall Street, but they have a chance to do something good here, and I do not mean the death penalty.  The NCAA must set the standard and act accordingly. Even if this is just a civil matter technically speaking, is that enough punishment? Since when did the NCAA not believe it wasn’t powerful enough to deliver a punishment, even if they or anyone else believes there is no written rule that was broken?

Unprecedented means never before, so the NCAA needs to be careful that if they do not act, they could be perceived as highly insensitive. Far less serious issues have torn apart administrations and with the announcement of a four-team playoff system in college football two weeks back, the NCAA is risking breaking some serious momentum. That may sound insensitive but it is a fact that men like this consider. You do not need to look further than Freeh’s report to see how true that statement is!

No, Penn State does not deserve the death penalty. Yes, covering up child rape in the football showers is far worse than paying players, but Penn State is, and this is where Don is correct about one thing, going to pay dearly on the civil side of this equation. The amount of money Penn State is going to pay out may as well be a self-imposed death sentence.

However, the death penalty does not sound like a bad option when you read the timeline of events. Prior to August 2005, and six victims later, Penn State, and that means Joe Paterno had ample time to bury this bastard, and have him put away. For God’s sake, when Mike McQueary reported what he saw Sandusky doing to a child in the shower to Joe Paterno, the Freeh Report states that, “Paterno reports the incident to Curley and Schultz on Sunday, February 11 as Paterno did not “want to interfere with their weekends.”

Still do not think this is an NCAA issue? Look at the grand jury report and specifically victim No.4 and then tell me that Penn State didn’t put all of college football at risk. The Grand Jury concluded, as did the Freeh report that Sandusky repeatedly subjected victim four to sexual intercourse and did so on the campus of Penn State and in the football facilities. As if that’s not bad enough, Sandusky who retired from the team as a coach following Penn State’s 24-0 victory over Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl that year took victim number four to the Bowl game and assaulted him while staying at the team’s hotel.

Looking back, what a pathetic piece of shit Sandusky is, and even that adjective is too good for him, and unfortunately in the eyes of some, too good for Paterno as well. Sickeningly, Sandusky was given the royal treatment following the game, as he was doused with a bucket of Gatorade and carried off the field by his players.

If the NCAA takes away TV for a year or two, as well as the privilege of playing in a Bowl game, the Nitnany Lions may not roar again for at least 10 years. The NCAA needs to do this for the right reasons. First and foremost is for Sandusky’s victims, and the innocent people in the Happy Valley community who need time to heal. Maybe a long time. Not seeing the traditional white on white or dark blue Jerseys and white helmets for a significant period may be a good thing for all involved. Maybe this is where out of sight, out of mind, is a good thing.

Southern Methodist University (SMU) received the only death sentence in NCAA Div. I  history back in 1987 when it was learned that the schools higher-ups maintained a slush fund used for “under the table” payments to players from the mid-1970s through 1986.

The Mustangs had only one winning season over the next 20 years and failed to make another bowl until 2009. It was also one of several factors that led to the collapse of the Southwest Conference. To this day, it is the most severe penalty ever handed down to a Division I athletic program. To date, it is also the only time the NCAA has canceled a football-playing school’s entire season at any level.

As far as for Paterno, it is tough to punish the dead, but it still needs to be done. One of the reasons Joe Paterno stayed and limped around University Park and Beaver Stadium for 14-years years longer than he should have is because of his pursuit to become and remain college football’s winingest coach.

Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who spent nearly a decade battling former Penn State coach Joe Paterno for the most victories in NCAA Division I history, won 389 games in 44 seasons as a coach, including 34 at Florida State. FSU was ordered to vacate 12 victories as part of NCAA sanctions in January 2010, leaving Bowden with a career record of 377-129-4. Paterno, who spent his last two months battling lung cancer, won 409 games and two national championships in 46 seasons at Penn State.

Bowden was ahead of Paterno in all-time victories for a time, but Paterno passed him before Bowden was forced to retire as FSU’s coach near the end of the 2009 season. On Oct. 29, 2009 Paterno won his 409th game, moving him past legendary Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson for the most victories among Division I coaches.

Bowden was not silent about his long time friend’s role in the cover up and feels the statue should be taken down, but not for reasons of disgrace, but to protect Joe and his family as well as Penn State.

“I don’t remember the bad things,” Bowden told the Palm Beach Post. “He didn’t have many bad things.” during a radio interview with Cory Giger, Bowden asked for Paternos famed statue on the Penn State campus to be taken down.

“Should his statue be removed? In my opinion, yes,” Bowden said. “Now the reason is Penn State’s job now is to try to forget this thing. But every time somebody walks by and sees that statue, they’re not going to remember the 80 good years, they’re going to remember this thing with (former assistant coach Jerry) Sandusky.

“Just think, every time you go to a ballgame at Penn State and they shine a camera on that statue, that’s going to be brought up again. So if I was Penn State, if I was Joe’s family, I’d say, ‘move on from all that stuff.'”

Bowden is being kind. very kind, but someone needs to tell the long time Seminole coach that this tragic issue is not simply a matter of “getting over that thing”, or moving on from “stuff”. If I had my way, he would again be atop the leader board as the winingest coach in college football history. That is how the NCAA should punish Paterno, take away every win from the time he was involved in the cover up. It is safe to say that based on Freeh’s report 1998 is a good starting point, but for the sake of accuracy, The NCAA should vacate every victory from Paternos record from the 2000 season until he was fired.

Tear it down now

That would give Paterno 311 career victories, and place him behind Amos Alonzo Stagg for sixth on the Div. I list, and I hate the Seminoles.

Yes, this is a civil matter, but it is also a criminal matter that involves more than Sandusky. It is also a community matter, and is most definitely an NCAA matter, and a matter of facts that must somehow be punished. I always believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunmen in the killing of President Kennedy for only one reason. I never believed that such important men, whether in the government or the mafia, could keep killing such an important man a secret for so long. Somebody would have talked, wouldn’t they?

This scandal has me rethinking my conclusion about that late November day in 1963. If Paterno, Spanier, Schultz, and Curley proved one thing, it was that important men could indeed keep their mouths shut, sweep horrific events under the carpet and maintain a squeaky-clean image in the process.

In the end, Paternos legendary career is ruined, he is a disgrace to those that did not know him personally, and even to some that did know him. His willingness to protect Penn State, his image and a football program, over the welfare of children leaves for no other conclusion. In the end, it is that simple. Joe Paternos statue needs to fall and the fact that the NCAA has not announced that it intends to act, and the statue still stands only prolongs the hurt and delays the healing process further.

Remember the HBO series OZ, JS may be living it.

The only thing that makes any of this bearable is the fact that Sandusky is likely to face justice of another kind while behind bars. I know, two wrongs do not make a right, but it sure doesn’t hurt that Sandusky is very likely to experience the humiliation, hurt and anguish that he was responsible for doling out for so many years while bunking with Bubba  for the rest of his life.

Prison justice is the only justice that prevails withpredators such as Sandusky.

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About Alan Zlotorzynski

I am a 42-year-old amateur sports talk show host, and sports writer. I am from Baltimore, MD, and my first love is all things "Balwmer". The Ravens, Orioles, Terps, and Washington Capitals are the teams I love. Living in Melbourne Florida now, I follow the Florida Gators, and casually watch the other two Florida NHL teams. I love sports history, especially the NFL and NHL from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I miss the Baltimore Colts, and the Baltimore Orioles. I hate everything Pittsburgh sports and will always cheer for whoever is playing the “Stillers”, Penguins, and Pirates. However, I do have much respect for the way those teams (except for the Pirates, they suck as bas the O’s) compete. I love the underdog, and 2-to-1 pitching duels. 10-7 mistake free defensive football games are great to watch and I like old time hockey. I believe Europeans are ruining the NHL. And Peter Angelos is a dick. I don't like the NBA, but I will watch the playoffs. I love college basketball. And believe March Madness is the best sports championship of the year followed by the Super Bowl. Nothing and I mean nothing beats a Game No.7 of any NHL playoff series. My favorite all time athletes are Johnny Unitas, Ray Lewis, Cal Ripken Jr., Wayne Gretzky, and Dale Earnhardt Sr. ( Junior sucks). For those of you that still call No.52 a murderer, you’re an asshole. Speaking of No.52, I don’t like Mike Green of the Washington Capitals because I don’t like crybaby sissies, who get hurt all of the time. I don’t like people who chronically complain about shit and do nothing to fix it. I love sports movies, and feel the top three all-time are *61, Field of Dreams, and Slap Shot. I love my hometown teams, but am also a realist. While I hate Duke Basketball, I feel Coach"K" is the greatest coach in any sport of my generation. Bill Belichick is a distant second. I don't like the Indianapolis Colts, but love Peyton Manning; I cannot stand the New York Yankees, but love Derek Jeter. I love my beautiful wife very much, whom I will be married to for three years this June. Gina is the greatest woman God has ever placed on this earth, and I now know she was my high school sweetheart all along. Without her my life would be shit. With her, I’m on top of the world. I have four great kids, and my oldest will always be Daddy’s Little Girl. Lauren I love you, and I will always be there for you. Izzi, Sarah, and Marco---Daddy Mr. Alan will never let you down either. I’d like to thank my father for his undying support, he is the greatest. I’m blessed to have a great step mother. Thanks Ome for being so good to me and my family. I want to tell my brother Brian, and sister Treena that I love them very much, and their families. Mom would be so proud. Speaking of mom, I miss her very much and know that she is watching from above. She is a big reason I’ve made it this far in life, and while I haven’t hit the big time yet, I know I will because of how she raised me. By the way, when I do make it, all of you are coming along for the ride. Thanks for your support, and if there is something you would like to read or hear just drop me a line at zbestsports1@gmail.com. Please be sure to log in and listen on Blog talk radio on MONDAY-WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY @ 6:30 to hear Z-Best R-rated Sports Talk.
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